Well, the end of the river has passed and what a let down. The river was almost over it’s banks in the end, but things were looking very good with 3 weeks left. Even then things didn’t go to plan.
It was my day off work and my local rivers were looking in fine trim. The temperatures were freezing overnight but almost double figures in the day. It was probably a bit too cold for barbel, so it was either chub or roach fishing, or possibly both. Before I could fish though, I heard the dreaded words ‘I think the dog needs to go to the vets Mick, he’s squinting badly, are you ok to book him in straight away at 8.30 when they open please’ Talk about a spanner in the works. That was the start of the frustrations! By 12.45 I was back home with the dog, but £160 lighter in the pocket. Thats a decent rod in angling currency! I put the dog in the house, went straight into the garage, then shot down to the river to salvage what I could of the day.
I decided to fish a swim I’d not fished since summer, just to see what was at home. A long glide finished where a tree had fallen in the water. I trotted maggots up to the tree, then held back hard, before repeating the process many times. By fishing well over depth I managed to get the odd bite, with most coming almost right under the tree.
I landed a couple of spanking 6oz roach then managed to lose a few good fish that straightened my hooks. I thought they were chub so wasn’t too bothered. Eventually I landed one of the chub and followed it with a lovely roach that was 3oz over a pound
This gave me plenty of encouragement, but the only other fish I landed were a few more 6oz roach. After losing my 4th good chub of the day to another straightened hook, I decided to move swims before I ran out of hooks! It had been a good couple of hours in the swim though.
I headed to a swim where I’d caught the chub and perch from in the last blog. A nice crease swim against some far bank cover. I fed it first with maggots while I had a rest. I was working out my plan of action. After fishing this swim I’d fish a couple more, both known to hold big roach, saving the best swim till dusk.
Before I could put my plan into action I received a text from Tracey. Her daughters car had broke down at work, could I pick her up at 5pm and go to the shop too………You can guess what I thought! I estimated I’d have about 40 minutes fishing left before I had to get home so thought I’d give the swim I was in my full attention.
Surprisingly, after feeding regularly and trying all sorts when I was trotting I never had a touch. That was until the float went under and I hooked the bottom, which then started to move slowly upstream! I’d obviously hooked into a heavy fish, possibly a pike that just kept going, very slowly upstream, before the hook pinged out, almost straightened again! I don’t think the fish even knew it was hooked.
There was too little time to tie another hook on, so I bent it back into shape and trotted again. This time the float shot under and I played a very roach like fish to the middle. It was hard to see what it was in the coloured water, but there were no silver flashes so I suspected a big perch. Just as I saw what looked like stripes, the hook pinged out again. It wasn’t going well today. On the next trot the float buried again and I was into a big roach. I knew straight away this time as it came straight to the surface to give the game away. It’s always nerve racking landing a good roach in flowing water but my bendy hook held firm and the day was suddenly getting better. It looked like a fish I caught on hemp at the end of summer. If so, that meant it usually swims in a decent shoal of big roach, possibly 12 to 15 in number, with several over 2lbs.
The next cast saw the float bury again, and another tense battle took place with another good roach. I soon landed it to make it 2 roach over a pound and a half in successive casts.
The next few trots saw a couple of missed bites, before I hooked big roach number 3. This time it out smarted me by diving into a clump of weed, where it shed the hook before my eyes. What a crafty sod. Almost chub like. To top things off, as I pulled my hook out of the weed, it pinged back and wrapped round the tip of the rod into a right old birds nest. I took that as my time to leave as I’d not even have time to tackle up again before I’d have to set off home.
I tried to sum the day up. A disaster? possibly, but you can’t call those river roach a disaster. Maybe it was a case of what could have been. I wasn’t too bothered though as I’d found a good shoal of big roach. I thought I’d surely get a chance to target them before the ‘dreaded 14th’, but alas, the ‘Beast from the East’ then heavy rain put the river out of action until a couple of days after the season ended. There was one small window to fish but I was busy that day. Martin landed a couple of fish just under 2lbs on that day, from the last swim I’d planned to fish in my ‘ruined’ plan.
‘As one door closes another opens’ is the saying, so it’s time to fish my local ‘cuts’ for some perch roach and chub, which all grow to specimen sizes if you know where to look. On my only short trip so far, I fished lobworms for big perch. I turned up in the early afternoon, just as a few match anglers were packing up. They tipped back 4 small roach between them as the ‘beast’ had really cooled the water. You should have seen their faces 5 minutes later when both my rods went off straight away, just after I’d cast in. A couple of bream wasn’t what I was after, but they kept me on my toes, as did plenty of others.
In fact it got me thinking just how good my local canals are. As I’ve said, they definitely hold big roach to over 2lbs, chub to over 7lbs, perch to almost 5lbs, plus numbers of 20lb+ pike. The hard thing about targeting these fish though is the sheer numbers of bream. The canals are full of them. In fact since the closed season was abolished, my local canals have never fished better……food for thought!!